A few weeks ago I settled down in bed to a day of indulging myself to the best rom com films a feminist, who believes that self-empowerment and romantic comedies are not mutually exclusive, could treat herslf to. I breathed a sigh of relief to a moment of mind-numbing bliss. But that was not to last long.
I got onto Sex and the City: the Movie after watching The Devil Wears Prada and Bridget Jones’ Diary, and it was at that moment that I realised soemthing very imporant. A key detail which all of these films had in common was that the female protagonists were all journalists. I paused the film, took one long look at Sarah Jessica Parker staring at me in the face with her sharp black rimmed eyes, down at the tub of ice cream I had subconsciously finished, back up at Sarah Jessica Parker; and through the glimmer of her cheekbone, I saw myself in the screen of the laptop.
The only clear thought I had in my spinning head at this point of revelation were the haunting lyrics of a Mulan masterpiece begging the question, “who is that girl I see staring straight back at me?”
The next day I told my flatmate to watch When Harry Met Sally with me, until realising the same thing. Upon my immediate rejection of this film, we decided that since it was the lead up to Christmas maybe a festive film would better suit what we were looking for. The Holiday, anyone? God, Kate Winslet why are you doing this to me? How about we just forget films altogether and fallback on one of the most wholesome television series created: Gilmore Girls? Wait a minute, didn’t Rory want to…? You have got to be kidding me.
I do not think it was my journalistic aspirations that were subconsciously making the decision to watch these films, since all the above are acknowledged as the big dogs in the world of rom coms. But maybe, just maybe, it was these very films that inspired and festered my journalistic aspirations, leading me astray from the true path of medicine which ran in my Indian veins. Here I am right now writing this article in the hopes of fulfilling the very ambitions which Anne Hathaway had when she stepped into Meryl Streep’s office with that cerulean blue jumper. Coincidence? I think not.
Of course these films are not the sole reason for why I want to be a journalist, but having thought they had no influence at all on my career trajectory, I must now acknowledge that rom coms are less mind-numbing than I initially gave them credit for. And it can’t just be me. I wonder how many other girls must have been subconsciously captured by these female protagonists when making their life decisions.
But that’s the funny thing. A lot of these female journalists were messes, and the journalistic world looked like even more of a danger zone. Anne Hathaway worked endlessly in fear of a ring tone which I’m sure haunts her ears to this very day; Bridget Jones slept with the boss, the big no no in any job; and Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life was the biggest slap in the face when Rory proved that no matter how smart and committed you are, you can still mess everything up.
Most people want success and stability in their lives. Success, a lot of them did achieve, granted. But stability, most of them were far from that. But wasn’t it exactly that that made it exciting? Just imagine: taking on the mean streets of the big city with dreams larger than skyscrapers themselves, scared and unaware but also excited and hopeful of what lay ahead. One of my biggest fears has become sitting in an office doing “admin” (whatever that even means) till the end of my days; and these movies offered a somewhat skewed, glamourised, and over-romanticised possibility of an alternative reality. Who doesn’t want that? Even Walter Mitty can vouch for this.
Of course there is a lot wrong in this ideal. It begs the question of how has the representation of female journalists who either thrive off of reporting their mess of a life, or are unmarried due to the amount of dedication they had to put into their career over their love life largely come to mean success? Is life only exciting when it’s unstable? Does success for a STEM-rejecting woman mean having to give up on a social or love life in the dirty fight up the greasy ladder?
Absolutely not. Yet seeing as it’s so often seen that way, something obviously needs to change. And until that happens I will revert to safely picking up a copy of Pride and Prejudice; where instead of female journalists even existing, I opt for the good ol’ days of women having no job under the much more important and liberating quest of finding a husband with deep enough pockets to hold the guts spewing out of their corsets. Wait a moment, isn’t Bridget Jones an adaptation of… oh bugger.
Image: via beautydart